Questions Parents Should Ask Before Encouraging Children to Pursue Professional Sports 

As a parent, you want your child to have the opportunities in life that help them achieve their goals of success. However, sometimes those opportunities come at a cost, especially when it comes to sports. While some children have professional athlete goals, many play sports just to appease their parents or just for fun and have other interests off the field. If your child is one of the former, that’s great. But, before you buy that pro jersey and box seats at the stadium, there are a few questions you need to ask YOURSELF.

Are They Really Into It?

You may be gung ho on the idea of having a pro athlete for a child, but is that what he or she really wants? As a parent, you have a greater influence than you may imagine. Some teens who feel they owe a debt of gratitude for the many years you’ve invested aren’t likely to voice their true opinion with regard to pursuing a career in professional sports. Ask yourself these questions: does your child tell you when they have a practice or a game or are you the one that has the schedule down? Does your child take the initiative at home to hone their skills? And do they talk about becoming a professional basketball, baseball or football player as an adult?

Consider the answers to these questions, before you go running off to sports recruiting websites, because they reveal your child’s true commitment, or lack thereof, to becoming a professional.

Does Your Child Really Have the Necessary Talent?

Getting into a professional sport means climbing over many obstacles along the way. You see your child as the best, and why wouldn’t you? But, as you sit in the stands at practice, training sessions and on game day, put your critical eye to the test. Is your child one of the real stars? To be blunt, if they missed the game, would the team crumble?

Not everyone has the natural ability to play, some kids need more guidance and some are content just to drift along with play, never having any real impact. Before you go ahead and purchase breakaway banners, this is an important thing to consider.

Does Your Child Know What It Takes to Succeed?

They have dreams of being the next Kobe Bryant or Peyton Manning, and you’ve established they have the talent. Are they putting every effort into their success? While the aforementioned players made a drastic impact in their sport, it wasn’t without putting the work in. For example, Bryant’s workout consisted of making 1,000 shots every practice. Not taking, making. That alone attests to his commitment to the sport, and that’s why he will be remembered as one of the greats.

Similarly, your child has to have the dedication to succeed. It’s more than showing up at practice and making a game-winning goal or touchdown. It’s the attitude, the hours spent away from friends and family to work on weaker areas, and watching video, learning from previous mistakes.

If they’re not willing to put in the work and you push your child into a career in professional sports, they may actually miss out on their true passion. It’s a tough position to place a teen in as to whether or not to apply to colleges for an athletic scholarship. They may seem eager, especially knowing the long-term investment you’ve put in. However, inside their emotions may be something of a winding roller coaster with no end in sight.

Does Your Child Know the Risks Involved?

As with any career, there are going to be risks involved. The risks for becoming a professional athlete, however, are much more involved. If they’re going to college, they should focus on getting an education as much as they are focusing on catching an agent or recruiter’s eye.

The reality is, even after making it to the pros, the average career of a professional sports player is merely years. The NFL has an average of 3.3 years, while the NHL has an average of 5. NBA players fall in between at 4.5 years. Injury often cuts their careers short, making it a high-risk investment. Additionally, most players also don’t make the big bucks that elite players do, so they need a career to fall back on. As a parent, it’s your job to outline these risks so they fully understand what they’re getting into. Having a backup plan is a must and be diligent in making sure they know that.

A very small number of teens receive a full-scholarship in sports from prestigious schools. In fact, the numbers are approximately 3%. Not every child has the natural ability to play professional sports. You can work with them and they can train hard. However, at the end of the day, it really depends on two things: Do they have the skills and desire? Put your expectations aside and really take a close look at your child and most of all, let them make their own decision.

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